universities

Into the program prioritization debate

Last week, we published an article by Leo Groarke and Beverley Hamilton on program prioritization. For the uninitiated, program prioritization is a process – now much in vogue at Ontario’s universities – for ranking academic and non-academic programs for the purposes of directing resources. Some have called it a “rank n’ yank” process, where programs deemed to be under-performing are slated for cuts or outright elimination. Suffice it to say, program prioritization is controversial.

Not surprisingly, Leo and Beverley’s

Doing the PPP: A skeptical perspective

So-called "program prioritization processes" have been a hot topic at American and Ontario universities. But as Leo Groarke and Beverley Hamilton argue, the cost of PPP is much higher than many administrators realize.

Humour Matters: The long, slow bus ride to the future

All this talk of innovation, transformation, and inspiration has got me thinking of bus rides. Universities today swim in a sea of overwrought rhetoric. They trumpet their patents, their entrepreneurship, their empowering humanities research; they build transformative community synergies and interdisciplinary partnerships; they link up with business and government to produce ground-breaking research.

And it’s not enough to exaggerate faculty accomplishment. Supercharged bluster and transformative bombast now infect graduate school and flow down to the greenest first year student. I

Where have all the academics gone?

Writing in today’s Ottawa Citizen, Lawrence Martin observes that Canada’s academic are “missing in action”. That is, almost totally silent on the critical issues facing the country- everything from the “declining state of our parliamentary democracy” to the tepid response to the Federal Government’s muzzling of federal scientists and starvation of key research institutions (for more on this, check out Carol Linnitt’s scathing indictment of the Harper Government’s attack on science).

Martin’s point is a good one. Canada’s professors

“Universities need to innovate, but put down the sledgehammer”

Over on the Inside Agenda Blog, there is an excellent piece by Emmett Macfarlane, a professor at the University of Waterloo. In it, he explains that there is a need for universities to be innovative, but that the current proposals for change (such as MOOCs or teaching-only institutions) are not the panaceas they are made out to be. Moreover, the currently monologue around university reform ignores the great deal of innovation already occurring within our universities:

The biggest problem

The perils of California Dreamin’ in higher education

Writing in the National Post, Ian Clark argues that emulating California’s higher education system will increase the productivity and efficiency of Ontario’s universities. No doubt, this is an idea that will appeal to some, but the rest of us should be cautious in accepting his conclusions.

Clark, along with David Trick and Richard Van Loon, have built a bit of a cottage industry around diagnosing the ailments of Ontario’s universities and suggesting ways to cure them. Their work, expressed

The Quiet Campus: The Anatomy of Dissent at Canadian Universities

The remarkable—a word that can be read in many different ways—2012 student protests in Quebec have stirred memories of the activist campuses of yesteryear. For faculty members introduced to the academy in the era of student activism, anti-Vietnam War protests, and general social unrest, the recent quietude of the Canadian university system has been disturbing. Universities had been transformed in the 1960s from comfortable retreats into agents of intellectual foment, social change, and political action. For a time, it appeared

Thunderstorm 4/9/2011

Influencing Universities to Embrace Learning Outcomes: Why JOBS is a Dirty Four Letter Word

“Looming low and ominous, in twilight premature, thunderheads are rumbling in a distant overture” (Neil Peart, from the RUSH song Jacob’s Ladder). 

As a 16 year old New Brunswick boy listening to these words I always imagined impending chaos as the power of nature crept slowly upon an earth that refused to change in any but superficial ways.  Now, as a 46 year old professor returning from a conference focused on “Learning Outcomes” these lyrics again come to mind as

The Myth of the Academic Generation Gap: Comparing Junior and Senior Faculty in Canada’s Universities

It is commonly assumed that junior (pre-tenure) professors work much harder and have lower levels of job satisfaction than their more senior (tenured) peers.

A new study of Canadian university faculty, titled ‘Academic Work in Canada: the Perceptions of Early-Career Academics’ and published in Higher Education Quarterly (Jones, Weinrib, Metcalfe, Fisher, Rubens0n & Snee, 2012, volume 66, no. 2) concludes that not only is this assumption incorrect, but also that, despite the rhetoric that junior and senior academics are experiencing

SONY DSC

Expanding graduate programs and renewing the professoriate: What’s the connection?

Does Ontario need to expand its master’s and doctoral programs in order to supply the professors who will teach these additional students? Ian Clark, David Trick and Richard Van Loon argue that in all fields of graduate study, the government should take into account the best available evidence to ensure that the number of graduate spaces is sufficient to meet the needs of the workforce, but not higher.

Teaching Mentorship Matters

Learning how to teach is an important process of academic life. But when should it begin? How does it happen? Who should be involved? Who is responsible?